The 2012 NHL Trade Deadline doesn't hit for another week, but a few teams fired their first shots over the bow this week. Here is my take on what the moves of the last week mean and how they helped their respective teams.
Dominic Moore, San Jose Sharks:
Center - SJS
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 20
SOG: 78 | +/-: -10
The big quesiton with this, and I hear it all the time, is why is this guy traded all the time? It seems like he's traded every deadline, and I think it just shows that he's wanted at every deadline. If you watched the San Jose game Sunday, he played a lot and was on the ice during the last minute of the game. He's a solid hockey player all around -- great on draws, a guy that can score, he's very committed defensively and he blocks shots. He's the type of guy that's very in demand this time of year when the checking gets tighter, the going gets tougher and draws get more important. In addition, most lines only have one guy that can take a draw, but Moore plays on the wing, too. That means he gives teams two guys that can take a draw on one line in the final minute of a close game. That's a very important thing this time of year. A team that's going to be playing a lot of hard-fought, close-checking games can use someone like Moore. He becomes a pretty valuable guy. That's why you see him moving this time of year so often.
Moore is the type of a gritty guy you go after to push your team to that next level this time of year. Obviously, you'd go for an elite goal scorer if you could, but the price tag on one of those is pretty high. If you look at teams that win Cups, the gritty guys become more important because the elite scorers get checked tighter. Those third and fourth-line types are the ones that become important. If you look at Boston last year, players like Shawn Thornton
were scoring big goals. Dominic Moore
fits that kind of mold.
Hal Gill, Nashville Predators:
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 8
SOG: 34 | +/-: -5
I like this move, but the minute I saw it, two things came to my mind. The first is that Nashville is definitely taking a run at the Cup. This gives them a very deep defense and Hal Gill
has been excellent in the playoffs. When he has an assignment, and it's usually been to shut down the team's top line, he plays very well. Getting him can also free up Ryan Suter
or Shea Weber
from that role of shutting down the other team's top line, allowing them to use their offensive weapons as well. The other thing that went through my mind though, was 'Did they do this because they're going to give up Suter at the deadline?' Nashville is saying they aren't going to give him up and they're taking a run at the Cup, but this is solid insurance if they decide to get rid of him to make sure they get something in return for developing a player they expect to leave.
If they know Suter is likely to be gone on July 1, they have to trade him. It's a bad decision to lose all the assets you could get back for nothing. This is a guy who could bring really high-end prospects or a boatload of draft picks back in return.
Having those three guys together though, Weber, Suter and now Gill, gives them a top three defensemen that might be unmatched talent-wise in the West. Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles all have talented defenses, but it's hard to beat a top three like these. Gill might get lost in the shuffle, but if you look back at what he did alongside Rob Scuderi
in 2009 in Pittsburgh, he went against every team's top line every night and he always shut them down.
Pavel Kubina and Niklas Grossman, Philadelphia Flyers:
Defense - PHI
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 5 | PTS: 5
SOG: 38 | +/-: 1
Obviously, the overriding theme here is size. These are two gigantic defensemen, and they're both good defensemen. They're not top-pair guys. They're more like third and fourth defensemen, but they've got big bodies and they skate well for guys that size. Kubina has already won a Stanley Cup which gives the dressing room another experienced guy, but all of the sudden, a defense that wasn't very big after Braydon Coburn
now gets a very nice addition of size, which in the Eastern Conference will be key when they have to grind it out against teams like the Rangers and Bruins. I think these are both solid moves and they add to the depth of that team in a big way considering how much is missing with the absence of Chris Pronger
I don't think they're in the discussion for top teams in the East because their goaltending still isn't on par with teams like New York or Pittsburgh. The goaltending is definitely the Flyers' Achilles heel, but their defense now looks much better than it did a week ago.